Modern Approaches to Website Maintenance
Author: Jacqueline Sinex, WEBii
In a modern world of growing technology, website maintenance is one of the most important things that your business can invest in. After all, a poorly maintained website could result in the breakage of important features, a web design flaw, or a security breach. If you experience any of these issues, it can be not only embarrassing in the short term, but a negative impact on your brand and your operations.
With proper attention to website maintenance and disaster prevention, you can focus on successfully serving your customers and keeping employees productive.
Be Proactive with Your Website Maintenance
Caring for a website is very similar to caring for office networks and computer systems; you must be proactive with maintenance. If you wait for something unfortunate to happen first, you will find yourself scrambling to fix something. By creating a regular schedule of maintenance tasks, you can keep up the software and integrations behind your website more efficiently and diminish the likelihood of emergencies.
For example, your website developer or administrator may decide on a regular monthly check-up of all the key software elements in the website. And perhaps twice a month they apply the latest software upgrades and patches to keep the versions up to date.
Meanwhile, your contributors can check all the website content every month to clean up old information and outdated links.
At the end of each maintenance task, someone very familiar with the website should test it on a computer and mobile browser to confirm it displays and functions properly.
Make Regular Website Backups
Just as your IT professionals ensure that you have quality backups for your computer data, you need to ensure that you have regular backups of your website data.
A website backup should include all of the content, functions and design elements associated with it. The majority of websites today are powered by a database, so it is important that the backup includes the database and files.
Some web hosting providers offer a backup tool you can use with your web hosting control panel. Or, you may have a software feature in your website that schedules and builds a regular backup copy. If you have a website maintenance service, the maintenance manager will usually make a backup prior to applying upgrades.
If disaster does strike, even in the form of a minor mistake with design and content changes, you will be able to rest easy that you can restore a recent backup of the website.
Automate Website Monitoring
There are several tools and services available that provide website monitoring. Rather than basic “uptime monitoring”, we recommend using something that will regularly scan the website and check for potential vulnerabilities and concerns.
For example, with a WordPress-powered website, there are plugins available that provide a basic security scanning tool. You can schedule the plugin to periodically check your site’s health and receive an email notification when there is a concern.
Add a Firewall Layer to Your Website
As an extension of the basic security scanning, services like Wordfence, Sucuri and SiteLock provide a firewall-style of protection around the website. These firewalls are managed by the third-party website security provider. These solutions are especially useful for websites that have a previous hacking history and want to avoid being a repeat target.
Enforce Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
Part of maintaining your website security is to hold each user responsible for good, secure practices. This includes requiring a strong password for every user who is granted an account, especially admins. You can set company policies in collaboration with your IT team on password lengths and rules. There are also features in some software plugins that will automate some aspects of this, to disallow certain weak passwords.
Since passwords are only one simple layer of protection, more companies are implementing two-factor authentication with their website logins. This will require each user to verify a second step in their login process, using a special app on a mobile phone and a unique code.
Create Admin and Editor Policies
If you have more than one person working on your website for any reason, it is a good idea to create a website maintenance and administration policy. There may be a variety of users involved with your website, from a web developer, a security service, an editor, a content producer, and other employees.
Start by creating an outline of the roles and responsibilities of each person. Decide on schedules for important recurring tasks, like website software upgrades. Create policies around when a person can do a certain task and when the task should be approved by an administrator. Communicate regularly about coordinated efforts to avoid overlap with content and revisions being erased by another person.
In conclusion, having a clear understanding of your website maintenance needs and aiming for a proactive approach will make your employees and your website visitors happier. By avoiding unexpected website headaches and working toward efficiency, you can seize online success.
About the Author
Jacqueline Sinex leads the Austin SEO and web development team at WEBii, a local digital agency. To learn more, read about their website services.